Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Chicken Stroganoff With Tarragon and Mustard

"It just costs too much to eat well". You hear this almost everyday. I know that this is not true. It takes time to eat well, but not near as much money as most folks believe. One of the cheapest and tastiest meats available is the bone in skin on chicken thigh. My local grocery will put them on sell for less than a dollar a pound. That my friends will feed a family of four for less than $1.50. Take that dollar menus! Add some sides and for less than $5.00 everyone in the family eats well. To get the price you must buy the chicken with the skin and bone in tact and butcher it yourself. If your not sure how to do this here is a link to a YouTube video that Chef Paul Prudhomme produced: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NrGYaVN_T_0

The chicken stroganoff with tarragon and mustard uses boneless, skinless chicken thighs. The recipe, courtesy of Iron Chef Cat Cora,  is quick and easy to do for a family supper or can be made ahead of time for a causal company dinner. Just reheat and your good to go.

Chicken Stroganoff with Tarragon and Mustard
Serves 6


  • 1 1/2 ponds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more if needed
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, more if needed
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup shallots
  • 1/4 cup Marsala
  • 3/4 cup Chicken Stock
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh tarragon, plus 6 to 8 sprigs for garnish
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • Buttered parsley noodles, plan noodles or rice

Cut the chicken into 1" chunks. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper.  Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until it is shimmering but not smoking. Add the shallots and cook, stirring, until they're a light golden color, about 3 minutes. Turn the heat to medium-high, add the chicken pieces and cook, stirring, until golden on the outside and almost cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer the chicken and the shallots to a plate.

Deglaze the pan by turning the heat to high, pouring in the Marsala, and scraping up all the browned bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Boil until the liquid is reduced by half, about 1 minute. Add the chicken stock, stir, and boil until the liquid begins to look syrupy, about 2 minutes. Reduce the heat and pour any juices that have accumulated on the plate underneath the chicken back into the pan. Add the mustard and the minced tarragon and simmer for 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and whisk in the sour cream, stirring until smooth. Turn the heat to low, taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary.

Add the chicken and shallots to the pan and gently heat over low heat until the stroganoff is warmed through; do not let it boil. Serve over noodles, or rice and garnish each serving with a tarragon sprig.

I made this using Cat Cora's "twist it" suggestion using fresh thyme instead of the tarragon. This is comfort food at it's best - just remember to stock up on chicken thighs when your butcher puts them on sell and you too can eat cheaply and well.

Life is good - enjoy!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Traveling With Yelp

For several years Mike and I have tried to avoid fast food restaurants when traveling around the country.  This is easier said than done. Our best technique was to get off the interstate in a town, at meal time, drive around, spot a restaurant with a lot of cars, go in and enjoy! This worked pretty well as long as the timing was good. Many times we couldn't find anything and would head to the nearest fast food place -  our heads hung in defeat. This is NOT going to happen again thanks to the miracle of new technologies that allow our smart phones to be connected to satellites and an app called Yelp.

A couple of weeks ago we made a weekend trip to Memphis, TN. The mid-way point, lunch time, is Nashville.  We knew we wanted Bar-B-Que but we were crunched for time and didn't want to stray too far from the interstate. Yelp came to our rescue. (If your not familiar with Yelp it is an internet site that lets everyday folks post reviews about local businesses. It is also reachable with an app on your smart phone.) One of the cool parts of the smart phone application is that it has a button called a monocle. You press it and it shows you everything that is in your current location. Restaurants, gas stations, hospitals etc. I'm driving and Mike is searching for lunch.  Just west of Nashville right off the interstate is The Loveless Motel and Cafe. We hit the mother lode for lunch.

The Loveless Motel and Cafe was first stated in 1951. In the beginning it served fried chicken and biscuits in the cafe and had rooms for rent for travelers motoring on Highway 100. Today the Loveless can seat 75 folks for breakfast and supper and the hotel rooms have been converted to shops. The famous biscuits and handmade preserves (which are served with every meal)  are still the biggest draw to the restaurant.

We are quickly shown our table and the miracles begin to happen. Our waitress treated us as if we were old friends - kind, talkative and informative. She was all things southern just the kind of person I love. She immediately brought us the famous biscuits and three small pots of homemade preserves -   blackberry, strawberry and peach. She said "Here you go sweethearts - it's just to take the edge off." I kept tearing off small bites of biscuits trying to decide which preserve I liked the best. The verdict - all!

Mike ordered a half slab of their watermelon ribs. He was a bit leery of ribs with watermelon, but the waitress assured him that she had never had any complaints. The ribs were smoked perfectly, with meat falling from the bones, and the watermelon and bar-b-que sauce was a lovely mixture of sweet and savory. These are not to be missed.

I ordered a bar-b-que sandwich and fries. It was just what I was hoping for. Although after the biscuits and a rib or two of Mikes the french fries went to waste.

While in Memphis my old girlfriends took  me to Huey's. This is the go to place for great burgers and beer.  In 1970 there was only one location now there are four. If you ever visit Memphis the original Huey's is located in mid-town on Madison Avenue.

This is my burger and extra large onion rings. The rings are cut from large red onions, breaded and deep fried. Yummy!  Notice the yellow pic in the center of the burger. One of the traditions at Huey's is to place the pic in a straw and blow/shoot it into their soft ceiling. There are literally thousands of multi colored tooth pics over your head.

On our way home Yelp was again instrumental in our search for all things breakfast. It led us to The Log Cabin Restaurant. (Sorry no link, no website, just good food.) It's right off Interstate I-40 east of Memphis in Buffalo, TN.
Log Cabin Restaurant

Once again the hospitality of the folks in the south really should put the rest of us to shame. I asked where the ladies room was, the waitress rested her hand on my shoulder and said "Why honey, it's right behind the pie case." Pie case need I say more?  Anyway, breakfast was served quickly, piping hot with excellent service.

The home fries were especially good. Usually they are served pan fried but these were deep fried. Crunchy crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. The eggs were basted in real butter and the biscuits here once again handmade.

Thanks to Yelp we found two wonderful places to eat while on a weekend trip.
We're headed to North and South Carolina in a couple of weeks. I can't wait to see what new places await us.

Life is good - enjoy!